Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Picture of Paul

"On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight" (Acts 20:7)

Acts 20:1–6 tells us that Paul left Ephesus and travelled through Macedonia and into Greece. The Jews plotted against him in Greece, so he went back through Macedonia and then came to Troas, where he stayed for a week.

The church was already meeting regularly for the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, and this was also the time for Bible study and preaching. It was Paul’s last night, and he preached for a long time. Because the room was full of smoky lamps, a young man named Eutychus sat in a window to get fresh air and stay alert. Around midnight he fell out of the window and dropped three stories to his death. Paul, however, was used by God to raise him to life again. Then they went back upstairs, broke bread, and studied the Bible until daybreak.

There is a lot going on in this story. One way to consider it is as a new covenant Passover—the Lord’s Supper at midnight—a man raised to life at midnight—these things show us what really happens in worship when we have the Lord’s Supper. But what we can focus on in today’s lesson is that Paul was a teacher who held people’s attention. He did not take five minutes worth of material and stretch it out into a 45-minute sermon. Rather, he taught the Bible to hungry people who listened by the hour. If we had more exegetical Bible teaching, we could have longer sermons and fewer complaints.

Two other aspects of Paul’s ministry stand out in this chapter. We see this in Paul’s message to the Ephesian elders, which he delivered to them as he passed through their region on his way back to Jerusalem. He told them that he served them “with great humility and with tears,” and that he did not shrink from teaching them all of the counsel of God. We see that Paul was not only a great teacher, but he was also a great pastor. He was fearful at times, but he did not shrink (Acts 20:19–20).

Finally, we see Paul as a priest, a guardian of the church. He warned the elders to be guardians also, to act as shepherds to protect the church from the wolves that would surely attack. He told them that wolves would grow up in the midst of the church. As he had warned them, so they would warn their people (Acts 20:28–31).

Paul was a prophet (teacher, preacher), priest (guardian, worship-leader), and king (pastor, shepherd) to the church. He is a role model for elders everywhere, and also for each of us. Consider today your own calling in life. In what ways are you to be a teacher, a guardian, and a shepherd? Allow Paul’s example to speak to you.